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For the hamlet in South East England, see Sleaford, Hampshire.
Coat of arms of Sleaford
St Denys' Church
St Denys' Church
Sleaford is located in Lincolnshire
 Sleaford shown within Lincolnshire
Population 17,359 
OS grid reference TF064455
   – London 100 mi (160 km)  S
District North Kesteven
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SLEAFORD
Postcode district NG34
Dialling code 01529
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Sleaford and North Hykeham
List of places

Coordinates: 52°59′46″N 0°24′47″W / 52.996°N 0.413°W / 52.996; -0.413

Sleaford is a town in the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated approximately 11 miles (18 km) north-east from Grantham, 16 miles (26 km) west from Boston, and 17 miles (27 km) south from the city and county town of Lincoln. A resident population of approximately 14,500 in 6,167 households was recorded at the time of the 2001 Census.[1]

First recorded in the 9th century, the name Sleaford is from the Old English 'esla + forde', meaning "ford over a muddy stream" (now known as the River Slea). The town was first settled in the Iron Age located around the crossing of a prehistoric track with the Slea; it operated as a tribal centre and home to a mint for the Corieltauvi. Evidence of Roman and Saxon settlement has been uncovered and, by the late Saxon period, it appears that the town was a local economic and jurisdictional centre, hosting a court and market. During the medieval period, records differentiate between Old and New Sleaford, the latter emerging in the areas around the present day market place, church and castle. Granted the right to hold a market in the mid-12th century, New Sleaford developed into a market town and became important in the wool trade. In 1794, the Slea was canalised; known as the Sleaford Navigation, it brought economic growth to the town until it was superseded by the railways in the mid-1850s. In the 20th century, the sale of farmland around Sleaford led to the development of large housing projects and a significant rise in the town's population.

Until recently, Sleaford was primarily an agricultural town, supporting a cattle market[n 1] and seed companies such as Hubbard and Phillips, and Sharpes International Seeds. More recently, Sleaford is developing as a tourist and craft destination.



The earliest record of the place-name Sleaford is found in 852, when it is recorded in a charter as Slioford and in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Sliowaford; in the Domesday Book (1087), the settlement is called Eslaforde and in early 13th century it is recorded as Sliforde.[3] In some 13th century works, such as the Testa de Nevill (c. 1270), the name appears as Lafford.[4] The name is formed from the two Old English words sliow and ford, which, taken together, mean 'ford over a muddy (or slimy) river'.[3]


An electrum stater of the Corieltauvi, probably struck at Sleaford in the mid-first century BC. Diameter 17-19 mm.

Evidence of Bronze Age and earlier settlement in the Sleaford area is relatively sparse; the remains of a sword dating from the bronze age, found near Billinghay in 1852, being one such example.[5] Other archaeological material from this period has been recovered,[6] and further excavations have shown that there was human activity in this area during the Late Neolithic period and Bronze Age, but that this was not sustained.[7] In general, the evidence does not indicate that there was any settlement in the Sleaford area prior to the late Iron Age.[8] The earliest known settlement of the area dates from the late pre-Roman Iron Age and originated where a track running northwards from Bourne crossed the river Slea.[8] Only sparse pottery evidence has been found for the middle Iron Age period, but located south east of the modern town centre, south of a crossing of the river Slea and near Mareham Lane (an area known as Old Sleaford) are the remains of a late Iron Age mint, dated to 50 BC–50 AD; its size has led archaeologists to consider that Old Sleaford was probably the largest Corieltauvian settlement during this period and may have been a tribal centre.[8][9][10]

During the Roman occupation of Britain, the settlement at Sleaford was "extensive and of considerable importance"[11] and it was occupied continually up to at least the 4th century AD and possibly into the next century.[12] Its location along the fen-edge may have made it economically and administratively significant as a centre for managers and owners of large fenland estates.[13] There is also evidence to suggest a road connected Old Sleaford to Heckington, where tile kilns are known, something which may imply the presence of a market at Sleaford.[14] When the first main roads were constructed by the Romans in Britain, Sleaford was bypassed due to it being "less conveniently located" and more "geared to native needs".[15] However, a smaller road, Mareham Lane, which the Romans renewed, ran through Old Sleaford, and southwards along the fen edge, towards Bourne. Where it passed through Old Sleaford, excavations have revealed a large stone-built domestic residence with associated farm buildings, corn-driers, ovens and field systems, all dating from the Roman period, as well as a number of burials.[16] Further Roman remains, including a burial, have been excavated in the town.[17][18]


A view of the 11th century St Denys' Church, looking over the Navigation Yard, with the Almshouses immediately in front of the church.

The history of Sleaford at the decline of the Roman occupation of Britain is obscure and there is little evidence that the site was settled continuously between then and the Anglo-Saxon period.[14] Indeed, few remains from this period have been uncovered from Old Sleaford and it was not unusual for Saxons to avoid moving into old settlements.[19] Nonetheless, the Saxons did establish themselves in the area within two centuries and a large cemetery, estimated to contain up to 600 burials, many showing signs of Pagan burial rights, has been uncovered south of the modern town and dated to the 6th-7th centuries AD.[14][n 2] It is possible that the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants were foederati, who were first brought over by the Romano-Britains to help defend settlements from other Saxon invaders.[21] Excavations of the present-day Market Place have uncovered Anglo-Saxon remains, possibly indicating some form of enclosure (possibly even a market), with domestic features; these have been dated to the 8th-9th centuries AD.[22] The earliest documentary reference to Sleaford is found in a charter from the 9th century AD,[23] but there is little evidence of estate structure there until the late Saxon period.[14] The Slea never ran dry nor froze over and, by the 11th century, there were a dozen watermills in Sleaford; they constituted the "most important mill cluster in Lincolnshire".[24] The nearby villages of Quarrington and the lost hamlet of Millsthorpe were also both centres of milling activity, as their names reveal.[24]

By the 12th century, records show the existence of an Old Sleaford, which centred around the original Britano-Roman settlement, and a New Sleaford, centred around St Denys’ Church and the Market Place. It is not clear when “new” Sleaford emerged. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the consensus amongst historians, including Maurice Beresford and W.H. Hosford, was that the new settlement was an example of a planted, or planned, market town created by the land-owner (the Bishop of Lincoln) in the 1120s as an additional form of income. Sleaford’s rectangular market place, its compass-aligned streets and the epithets “new” and “old” were the principle evidence for this. However, since the late 1970s, a reinterpretation of the evidence has given way to a new theory, which has become generally accepted by later local historians, such as Christine Mahany, David Roffe and Dr Simon Pawney.[25][26][27] Instead, it is now believed that the “new” settlement existed earlier because the street alignment does not necessarily prove the chronology of the development, and need not prove it was even deliberate; the place names “new” and “old” were only used in the late 13th century, while earlier references described “east” and “little” Sleaford; and Domesday and archaeology evidence have been used to reassess the previous theory.[27]

The Domesday Book, a Norman survey of England compiled in 1086, has two entries for Sleaford; since the 1970s, historians have believed that only one entry, land owned by the Abbey of Ramsey, is now thought to refer to Old Sleaford and the other land, owned by the Bishop of Lincoln, was "New Sleaford", though the two were not both called Eslaforde.[23][25][n 3] According to Trollope, Old Sleaford was "separated from New Sleaford on the north by the little river Slea, bounded on the west and south by Quarrington, and by Kirkby Laythorpe on the east;"[29] its church, St Giles, no longer exists, and the manor house, Old Place, is all that is left of the original settlement.[25] According to Dr Pawney, Old Sleaford had been "an insignificant little place since the Romans left".[30] By the 15th century, the church Old Sleaford was in the possession of Haverholme Priory. After the dissolution of the monastery in the 16th century, the vicar was appointed by the King and the tithes were sold. There were few parishioners and they went over to New Sleaford to attend church;[31] indeed, during the late mediaeval period, the village had "dwindled" and may have been "deserted" by the 16th century.[25]

The Bishop's manor had been held by a Saxon lord, Bardi, before 1066 and the Domesday Book implies the presence of a court and market, which gave it economic and jurisdictional importance as an estate centre (caput).[32] Nevertheless, in the 12th century, it was transformed, largely by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln (d. 1148).[33] He built the castle and formally granted the town a market, the day changing to Thursday in 1202.[34][n 4] In 1258, it became a borough and a rental survey of that year shows 87 burgage plots, mostly along Eastgate, Northgate and Westgate.[33][34] The town had a strong tradition of demesne farming and was geared to serve the economic needs of the Bishop, who often stayed in the Castle.[36] By the 14th century, it was the wealthiest settlement in the Flaxwell wapentake and in 1563 the town had 145 households.[34] Sleaford was also home to at least two mediaeval guilds, which were more religious and charitable than economic, but comparable to those found in developed towns elsewhere.[34][37]

Early modern[edit]

Despite being slow to grow beyond serving demesne interest to gain an independent mercantile life,[38] the 14th century brought a decline in demesne farming and it is likely that the economic initiative in the town increasingly fell to the burgesses and middle-men; merchants developed connections with neighbouring towns, such as Boston, and Sleaford seems to have developed a locally important role in the wool trade.[39][40] During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, a prominent Sleaford family, the Husseys, were in possession of Old Sleaford. One of its members was John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford (died 1537), who was raised to the peerage in 1529 and executed for treason in 1537 for his part in the Lincolnshire Rising. The Manor of Old Sleaford (and his residence at Old Place) reverted to the crown on his death and were later sold to Robert Carre.[41][42] The Carre family were one of the most prominent in Sleaford in the 16th and 17th centuries; originally from Northumberland, the family had settled in Sleaford by 1522, when a wool merchant, George Carre, lived there.[43][44] His son, Robert (died 1590), was the purchaser of Hussey's land, and went on to purchase the castle and manor of New Sleaford from Lord Clinton.[45][n 5] His eldest surviving son, Robert (died 1606), founded the town's Grammar School in 1604, while his youngest son, Edward (died 1618), was created a baronet (see Carr baronets), and his son founded the Sleaford Hospital in 1636.[47] The last male descendent died in 1683 and the heiress, Isabella Carre, married John Hervey (died 1751), who was created Earl of Bristol and in whose family the estates remained until the 1970s.[48][49]

During the 17th century, the Carre family continued to extract manorial dues from the townspeople and the rent rolls of their bailiff, William Burton, from 1627 demonstrate this. He took leading tradesmen to the Exchequer Court in London in order to gain legal force behind his monopolies over charging tolls on market traders, cattle traders and the driving of animals through the town; the court found in his favour.[50] Into the 18th century, the Marquesses of Bristol continued to exercise the control over the manor just as the Carre's had done before them.[51] Industry was slow to take hold in Sleaford and, by the second half of the 18th century, Cogglesford Mill was the only corn mill still working in Sleaford.[52] Another old corn mill, at the junction of Westgate and the Castle Causeway was used for making hemp by that time, which supplied the growing rope-making business of the Foster and Hill families.[53] Regardless, little changed in the town during that century and Dr Pawney wrote "in many respects, things had changed little [by 1783] since the survey of 1692", possibly due, in part, to the lack of any incentive for the absentee Lord Bristol to update the town's buildings.[54]

Despite all of this, Sleaford underwent a period of considerable change at the end of the 18th century. From the middle ages down to then, Sleaford had been surrounded by three main open fields: North Field, West Field and Sleaford Field. The enclosure of these open fields came in 1794. With over 90% of the 1,096 acres of open land being owned by Lord Bristol, once he was convinced that the profits of doing so outweighed the costs, this task required little deliberation. Despite the costs of fencing off and re-organising the new fields, the system offered its benefits to farmers and the to the land-owner; it was easier to farm, and cottages could be built closer to fields, while the land-owner could charge more rent owing to the increased profitability of the land; those who lost out were the cottagers, who had previously been able to keep a few animals grazing on the common land at no cost and now could no longer do so. Once completed, the new farm system yielded an extra £1,600 of profit for Lord Bristol.[55] This process also allowed for the complex and sometimes impractical arrangement of land and pathways to be tidied up; Drove Lane, which ran to Rauceby, was shifted north and straightened, for instance.[56]


Sleaford, as it appeared in 1891. The major roads are marked in red; railways in grey and rivers in blue. Key: (1) Market Place, (2) St Denys' Church, (3) Manor House, (4) Carre's Grammar School, (5) Westholme House, (6) Castle, (7) Station, (8) Old Place, (9) the remains of St Giles's Church, (10) the Union workhouse.[57]

The other change was the canalisation of the River Slea to the town. Canals in England were constructed to facilitate water-based, inland trade; the first of these canals opened at Bridgewater in 1761 and this was followed in the 1760s and 1770s by further developments. Lincolnshire generally lacked in coal deposits and Sleaford's businessmen were keen to benefit from this new form of communication and trade to import this increasingly important fuel source and export local grain and produce, and so plans were drawn up for the canalisaton in 1773.[58][59] These faced the opposition of land-owners who feared the process might affect the drainage of fen lands and so it, although plans were approved by residents in 1791, it was only with the support of Brownlow Bertie, 5th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, who owned estates and quarries nearby, that they were backed by an Act of Parliament in 1792 and the Sleaford Navigation opened in 1794.[58][60] This new canal system facilitated trade, with Sleaford exporting agricultural produce (especially corn) to the Midlands, and importing coal and oil; the mills benefited considerably, with Cogglesford Mill expanding, Money's Mill opening in c. 1796 by the navigation wharves, and others thriving along the Slea; further warehouses and wharves were developed in the early 19th century.[61][62] As a measurement of its wealth and growth, between 1829 and 1836 the lease of the Navigation's toll rights increased in value by nearly 27 times.[61] The commercial growth around these wharves led to the development of Carre Street, connecting Eastgate and the Market Place with Boston Road.[63] The canals meant that Sleaford became home to two prominent seed merchants: Charles Sharpe and Hubbard and Phillips.[64]

In the first half of the 19th century, Sleaford's population more than doubled, growing from 1,596 in 1801 to 3,539 in 1851.[65] Coinciding with this is the construction or extension of a range of important and prominent buildings, many of which are now listed, often by the building firm of Charles Kirk and Thomas Parry.[n 6][66][67][68] The Gasworks opened in 1839, fuelling new gas lamps in the town.[69] Meanwhile, Sleaford's Poor Law Union was formed in 1836 to cater for the town and its surrounding 54 parishes; the workhouse was constructed by 1838 and could house 181 inmates.[70] Despite these advances, the slums around Westgate[71] were over-crowded, lacking sanitation and disease-ridden; the local administration failed to deal with the matter until 1850, when a report on the town's public health by the General Board of Health heavily criticised the situation and set up a Local Board of Health to undertake public works.[72] By the 1880s, Lord Bristol had allowed for clean water to be pumped into the town, but engineering problems and a reluctance to sell land to house the turbines delayed the introduction of sewers.[73]

Despite the growth of the canal system, railways were beginning to emerge in the 19th century as an alternative and later competitive form of transport. Early proposals to bring the railway to Sleaford had failed,[n 7] but in 1852 plans were made to develop the Boston, Sleaford and Midland Counties Railway; an Act of Parliament to that effect was passed in 1853 and a line from Grantham to Sleaford opened in 1857; Boston was connected in 1859, Bourne in 1871 and Ruskington (part of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway) in 1882.[75][76] The railway did not cause significant population growth, but it did facilitate easier agricultural trade, greater communication (via telegraph) and, through the importation of bricks, it contributed to the development of new buildings.[n 8][77] It also led to the speedy decline on the Navigation Company, whose income from tolls decreased by 80% between 1858 and 1868; it made its first loss in 1873 and was abandoned in 1878.[78] The railway, along with Sleaford's rural location and artesian wells, was a key factor in the development of the 13-acre Bass & Co. maltings complex (completed 1905).[79]


Although largely undamaged by the First and Second World Wars,[80] Sleaford has close links with the Royal Air Force due its proximity to several RAF bases, including RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington; these links date back to the earliest development of that branch of the armed forces. Lincolnshire's topography — flat and open countryside — and its location on the east of the country made it ideal for the development of Britain's airfields, constructed in the First World War. Work began on Cranwell in late 1915; it became designated an RAF base in 1918 and the RAF College there opened in 1920 as he world's first air academy.[81][82] The Cranwell branch was a railway linking Sleaford station to the RAF base; it opened in 1917 and was closed in 1956.[83][84] During the Second World War, Lincolnshire was "the most significant location for bomber command" and Rauceby Mental Hospital, south-west of Sleaford, was requisitioned by the RAF and served as a specialist burns unit, with plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe regularly visiting the hospital.[81]

In the inter-war period, Sleaford's population remained static and the Great Depression of the 1920s caused unemployment to rise.[85] There had been private housing developments in the town, but these were limited. There were small council-housing developments along Drove Lane and the construction of Newfield Road and Meadowfield,[86] but these proved insufficient after the slum clearances along Westgate in the 1930s; Jubilee Grove opened in that decade as the first major council development, though reluctance from Lord Bristol and deference from the councillors meant plans to build the Woodside Estate in 1936 were delayed.[87]

The post-war period saw considerable expansion. There were new housing developments along Boston Road (St Giles Avenue, the Hoplands and Russell Crescent), East of Sleaford Wood and above the railway, and to the south of Grantham Road.[88] In 1958, the Bristol Arms Arcade opened, the Corn Exchange was demolished in the 1960s and the Waterside Shopping Precinct and Flaxwell House, designed to house a department store, though later becoming the national headquarters for Interflora, were opened in 1973.[89] In 1979, the major landowner, Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol (died 1985), heavily in debt, had sold off the majority of his estates in Sleaford and Quarrington; by 1989, the estates office closed completely.[90] With much of this land being sold to real-estate developers, the following decades saw the construction of new residential buildings and a considerable population increase.[91] The estates along Boston Road, Southfield in Quarrington, around Milton Way in Sleaford, south of London Road and north of Grantham Road in Quarrington, and south of Holdingham were constructed from the 1980s onwards.[88][90] Property prices were considerably lower in these new developments than in London, which attracted newcomers to the area throughout the 1990s.[90] Between 1981 and 2011, Sleaford's population rose from 8,000 to 18,000; the growth rate from 1991 to 2001 was the fastest of any town in the county.[92][93] The town's infrastructure struggled to cope, especially with increased congestion, which resulted in two bypasses around the town and a one-way system within it being introduced, a process which accelerated the decline of the High Street.[90] In the early 2000s, the Single Regeneration Budget allowance of £15 million granted to Sleaford improved the town centre and funded the development of the Hub (since 2011, The National Centre for Craft & Design).[94]



For more details on this topic, see Sleaford and North Hykeham (UK Parliament constituency)

The member returned in 2010 for the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency in the United Kingdom Parliament was the Conservative Stephen Phillips MP QC, who replaced Douglas Hogg, PC QC. Lincolnshire elected its own Member of the European Parliament from 1974 until 1999; since then, it has elected members as part of the East Midlands constituency; from 1999, there were six MEPs for the East Midlands, but this number was reduced to five in 2009.


Before 1832, Sleaford was part of the constituency of Lincolnshire, which encompassed the whole county, except for the boroughs of Lincoln, Boston, Grantham and Stamford. In the 1818 election, 49 of the 2,000 people living in New and Old Sleaford and Quarrington qualified to vote. In 1832, the Reform Act widened the franchise and divided Lincolnshire; Sleaford fell into the new South Lincolnshire constituency, which elected two Members of Parliament.[95] Following the 1867 reforms, the South Lincolnshire constituency's borders were redrawn, but Sleaford continued to fall within it.[96] The franchise was widened by those reforms: roughly 15% (202) of males in Sleaford and Quarrington could vote in 1868.[97] The constituency was abolished in 1885 and Sleaford became its own constituency,[96] which merged with the Grantham seat in 1918. In 1997, Sleaford separated from that constituency and was reorganised into Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Local Government[edit]

For more details on this topic, see North Kesteven

Sleaford Town Council is composed of 18 councillors from six wards. As of November 2014, these councillors are (by ward): Castle (Mark Graves, Trevor Mayfield, Keith Dolby), Holdingham (Becky Dunbar-Beckford, Ken Fernandes, Mark Suffield), Mareham (Paul McCallum, Jan Mathieson, Grenville Jackson), Navigation (David Suiter, Luke Mitchell), Quarrington Ward (Mark Allan, David Birks, Garry Titmus, Judith Titmus) and Westholme (Steve Fields, Heather Lorimer, Claire Darch).[98] The Chairman of the Town Council is also the Mayor of Sleaford; Cllr Keith Dolby is Mayor for the 2014-15 year; his deputy is Cllr Gary Titmus.[99][100] These six wards are also represented on the North Kesteven District Council, with Mareham forming the joint ward of Mareham and Quarrington; as of November 2014, Councillors Dolby, Jackson, Suiter, Allan, Suffield and Fields sit for their respective wards, alongside Geoff Hazelwood for Quarrington and Mareham.[101]

With the establishment of the Kesteven County Council under the Local Government Act 1888, Sleaford became its county town. In 1894, the Local Government Act 1894 converted the Local Board of Health into the Sleaford Urban District Council and, in 1899, the town became the administrative base of the Kesteven County Council.[102] Under the Local Government Act 1894, Kesteven was subdivided and the Sleaford Rural District formed; the rural districts created by the 1894 Act were reorganised in under a 1929 Act so that Kesteven was divided into North, East, West and South districts; Sleaford fell into the North district and became an Urban District. In 1976, the North and East districts and Sleaford Urban District were combined to form North Kesteven, which became a district of Lincolnshire. The District Council offices are located in the Victorian Lafford Terrace building, Eastgate, which was purchased by the Council in 1934 and has since been altered and extended.[103] Sleaford Town Council, existing at parish level, has offices on Carre Street.

Public utilities[edit]

Policing in Sleaford falls under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Constabulary, and fire-fighting under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service. The Police station is located on Boston Road, though older premises existed on Kesteven Street, off Eastgate, and were erected in 1845 and reconstructed in 1912.[104] The Fire Station is based at Church Lane, off Northgate, although plans to move it to new facilities on East Road by 2016 were approved in 2014.[105]


In 1879, an Act of Parliament was passed to set up a water company for the town; pumping machinery was installed and works constructed in 1880 to allow for a clean water supply to the town. In 1948, the Council took over the company and in 1962 its operation was handed over to the Kesteven Water Board.[106] The Sleaford Gas Light Company formed in 1838 and the following year, gas lamps were added to the town and a works building was constructed on Eastgate. In 1866, the company was incorporated; in 1895-6, the works were rebuilt and were sufficient to light the town until the company was nationalised in 1948.[107] Having investigated the matter as early as 1898, Lincoln County Council passed a motion to build electricity works in Sleaford and introduced a Bill to Parliament, which passed in 1900. The Local Government Board consented and, at the cost of over £6,700, the Council constructed the Electricity Works in the town 1901; they were based at the Electricity Station on Castle Causeway and remained there until nationalisation in 1948.[108]




Congregationalists can be traced to the late 18th century, when, in c. 1776, they built a meeting house on Hen Lane (later Jermyn Street).[109] A new chapel was constructed on Southgate in 1867-8 in the Gothic design. In 1972, it became Sleaford Reformed Church and the building was extended in 2007.[110] The Weslyans were a brake-away group of the Congregationalists, who first met in the 1790s at the house of Thomas Fawcett (d. 1831) on Westgate;[109] the location along Westgate, an impoverished area home to many of the town's slums reflects, as local historian Dr Simon Pawney stated, the tendency of Methodism to "flourish best where Anglicanism had failed to penetrate: among the poor".[109] In 1802, a purpose-built chapel was erected. Another new chapel on Westgate was built in 1823 and housed the congregation until 1848, when a larger one was built on Northgate; that building was demolished and a new one replaced it on the same site in 1972.[111][112]

The growing cultivations of the fenlands since the shortages of the Napoleonic Wars had brought migrant Irish farm-workers to the area; by 1879, their numbers had risen so high that a Catholic missionary, Father Hermann Sabela, began conducting services in the town. In 1881, land in Jermyn Street had been purchased and a Catholic school and chapel were built there; in 1888, a Church opened beside it.[113]

Members of the Muslim community of Sleaford formed the Sleaford Muslim Community Association and have been congregating in St Deny's Church Hall since the early 2000s. Plans for the building of a mosque on Station Road were approved by Lincolnshire County Council in November 2013.[114] Protests against the approval were planned by the English Defence League, but were cancelled.[115][116]

Places of worship in Sleaford
Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, Jermyn Street 
United Reformed Church, Southgate 
Sleaford Spiritualist Church, Westgate 


A17 approaching Holdingham roundabout

The A17 road from Newark-on-Trent to King's Lynn passes around Sleaford. The road previously ran through the town and was bypassed in the 1970s, with the road officially opening in 1975. The Holdingham roundabout connects the A17 to the A15 road from Peterborough to Scawby, via Lincoln. The road also ran through Sleaford until 1993, when a bypass around the town was opened. Internally, Sleaford comprises three main roads which meet at the market place: Northgate (B1518, leading to Lincoln Road and onto Holdingham Roundabout), Southgate (branching onto Grantham and Lincoln Roads and Mareham Lane; connecting to Boston Road) and Eastgate (B1517, connecting to the A153 and A17 via the Bone Mill Junction). A one way system connecting Southgate, Carre Street and part of Boston Road creates a circuit around the town centre, with the system forming part of the B1517, which then leads on to Grantham Road and through to the A15. Boston Road, connecting with Southgate, leaves the town and joins the A17 at Kirkby la Thorpe.

The River Slea running into the old Navigation Wharf

The three-platform railway station provides a junction served by local trains using the Peterborough to Lincoln Line on which trains continue to Doncaster (historically part of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway), and the busier Grantham to Skegness Line, on which trains continue to Nottingham.[117] From Nottingham, there are connections to Cardiff via Birmingham,[118] Liverpool, Leicester, Derby and Worksop. Sleaford is the only Lincolnshire town to be served by both north–south and east–west lines. Grantham station and its express East Coast Main Line rail link to London are about 25 minutes away from Sleaford by road,[119] or 25–30 minutes by rail.[120] Travel by train to London King's Cross from Sleaford usually takes just under two hours (including connections).

The River Slea was made navigable in 1794 as the Sleaford Navigation; however, the company responsible for it closed in 1878. The river, although no longer navigable, passes through the town and runs under Carre Street and Northgate. The Nine Foot Drain, also unnavigable, forks off the Slea just before Northgate.

There are several new cycle paths around the town, including the Sleaford Cycle Trail, but Sleaford is not yet connected to the National Cycle Network. In July 2005, plans were made to connect the town with the existing NCN National Route 15, which (at that time) ended just north of Grantham, by extending it through Sleaford to meet the NCN National Route 1 at the River Witham.


Carre's Grammar School; these buildings were constructed in 1834.[121]
No. 62 Southgate, Sleaford, built c. 1850 by Charles Kirk and subsequently part of Kesteven and Sleaford High School.[122]

Nursery and primary education[edit]

There are several privately run nurseries for pre-school age children in Sleaford. There are four primary schools; Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Primary School (RC), the William Alvey Church of England School, St Botolph's Church of England Primary School and Church Lane Primary School & Nursery.

In 1726 William Alvey bequeathed land to fund the teaching of children in Sleaford. In 1851, new buildings were constructed to house the school and the master. By 1856, it was being "conducted on the National System" and was named "Alvey's Endowed School".[123] New buildings for the infants' school were constructed in 1888.[124] The buildings have since been expanded and the school became an Academy in 2012.[125] St Botolph's School is a Church of England Primary School, which opened at its current site in 2002.[126] Church Lane School is housed in buildings constructed in 2002; in 2013, it had roughly 201 children on roll.[127] Our Lady of Good Counsel school was constructed for a capacity of 120 pupils and in 2011 had 155 pupils on roll.[128][129]

Secondary education[edit]

Westholme House, built in 1849 by Charles Kirk in the Gothic style, part of Sleaford Secondary Modern (later St George's Academy) from 1957.[122]

The town has three secondary schools. Carre's Grammar School (male selective secondary school), Kesteven and Sleaford High School Selective Academy (female selective secondary school) and St George's Academy, formerly St. George's College of Technology (mixed secondary school).

Carre's Grammar school was founded in 1604 by a bequest of Robert Carre of Aswarby to provide for the education of local boys. Carre granted several local men land in Gedney, making them feoffees; the rents of the tenants formed the means of financing the school.[130] Payments could be late, while the land was not urbanised and thus did not increase in value.[131] The school went into a period of decline in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, effectively closing in 1816, when the school and the master' salary was discontinued; however, a group of trustees purchased land in 1826 and secured funding in 1830 for the construction of new buildings and the school reopened in 1835.[132][133][134] The school's buildings were extended in the 1900s[135] and added to considerably in the 1940s and 1950s, with a canteen opening alongside new science and art blocks.[121][134][136] The school became grant-maintained in 1991 and received funding for a new technology and labs block;[137][138] it received Specialist Sports College status in 2003 and an additional Science specialist status in 2009.[139][140] Carre's became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard by Ofsted in 2013, at which time it had 817 pupils, including the co-education Sixth Form.[140]

In 1902, Sleaford and Kesteven High School for Girls was established in the architect Charles Kirk's old house on Southgate by a group of local business, and was managed by a board of nine directors and run as a limited company.[102][141] It was taken over by the Higher Education Committee of the Kesteven County Council in 1918.[142][143] A new school was built in the post-war period and the playing fields opened in 1962.[144][145] New teaching blocks were built in the mid-1990s and 2005.[146][147] Having received specialist arts school status in 2003,[148][149] it became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard at its Ofsted inspection in 2013, at which time there were 825 pupils on roll, including those in the co-educational Sixth Form.[150]

By 1907, the increase in Sleaford's population led the County and District Councils to decide that the town needed a new school; Kesteven Council School opened in 1908, housed in a purpose-built school on Church Lane.[151] New buildings at Westholme were constructed in 1957[152] and the Church Lane site was closed in 1984, with extensions being made to the Westholme site; the school, then named Sleaford Secondary Modern, was renamed St George's at this time.[153][154] In the 1990s and 2000s, additions were made to the buildings and the school received specialist technology college status (1994).[155][156] The school was grant-maintained and then a foundation school before it became an Academy in 2010 and merged with Coteland's Community School in Ruskington and Aveland High School in Billingborough.[157][158] The Aveland closed and Coteland's became a satellite school, its buildings being demolished and new ones erected, while those at the Sleaford site were updated considerably, opening in 2012.[159] The school had 2247 pupils on roll in 2012, across both sites and including the Sixth Form; when assessed by Ofsted in that year, was judged to be at "good" standard.[157]

Further and higher education[edit]

The three secondary schools each run Sixth Forms. From 1983, they operated a joint co-educational Joint Sixth Form consortium, allowing students from the schools to pick subjects at any of the Sixth Forms in the consortium.[160] In 2010 the High School withdrew,[161] but St George's and Carre's continued to operate the Joint Sixth Form.[162] At the beginning of the academic year 2010/2011, there were 776 pupils in the Joint Sixth Form.[163]


Arts and the media[edit]

Side of the Hub, with start of new riverside walk alongside River Slea.

The National Centre for Craft & Design includes galleries and studio space. It is situated in the former Hubbard's Seed Warehouse on the Sleaford Navigation wharf and opened as The Hub in 2003 as part of the Single Regeneration Budget.[164] Sleaford Museum Trust keeps its collections in storage due to lack of suitable premises but has established a "virtual museum".[165]

The Playhouse theatre was constructed in 1825 and ran until 1853, before re-opening two years later, only to be sold off in 1856; it was converted into an infants school the following year and later became a library and offices. In 1994, Sleaford Little Theatre bought it and restored it, which work was completed in 2000, when it opened to the public.[166][167] A grade II listed building, it is one of two Georgian playhouse buildings in the country.[168] The Carre Gallery, located on Carre Street, holds regular exhibits from local artists.[169]

The Sleaford Picturedrome opened in 1920 and proved popular, with it acquiring sound in 1931, an improved screen in 1955 and an additional screen in 1980; however, during the 1980s, there was a downturn in the number of patrons and the building's fabric deteriorated, with the old screen closing in 1984. In 2000, the cinema closed and became a snooker hall and then a nightclub;[170][171] however, due to poor demand, it was closed in 2008.[172]

Sleaford does not have its own radio station, but the main radio stations for the county are BBC Radio Lincolnshire, broadcasting on 94.9 FM and 104.7 FM frequencies, and the commercial station Lincs FM, on 102.2, 96.7 and 97.6 FM. The town does have its own newspapers and has done since the mid-19th century; those currently operating are the Sleaford Standard (founded in 1924),[173] the Sleaford Advertiser (founded in 1980)[174] and the Sleaford Target (founded in 1984).[175] Historically, the Sleaford Gazette operated between 1854 and 1960; the Sleaford Journal operated from at least 1884 until it was incorporated with the Gazette in December 1929,[176] while the Sleaford Telegraph briefly ran from 1888 to 1889 and the Sleaford Guardian was in print for a year from 1945 to 1946.[177]


Sleaford hosts a range of sporting clubs. The non-league football club is Sleaford Town F.C., which dates from 1920, when a group of enthusiasts from the Sleaford YMCA branch played a friendly match against Ruskington; in 1923, the team formally entered the Ruskington League as the Sleaford Red Triangle FC. In 1927, it became the Sleaford Amateurs FC and in the following decades won several local trophies, culminating in the club won the Lincoln Amateur Cup in 1952. In 1966, the club moved to the Boston Road Recreation Ground, where facilities for the club were poor. Two years later, the name changed to Sleaford Town FC. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the club won 15 cups or titles under the management of Brian Rowland (retired 2009). In 2004, the club moved into the United Counties League, which necessitated the move away from the Recreation Ground; purpose-built facilities were completed at Eslaforde Park in 2007 and were owned by Sleaford Sports Association.[178][179]

Additionally, the town's rugby, golf, cricket and bowls clubs have dedicated facilities. The clubhouse for Sleaford Rugby FC opened in 1999 and is situated off the A153.[180] Sleaford Golf Club was founded in 1905 and had roughly 100 members the following year, which increased to 193 in 1911. The clubhouse was renovated in 1992 and the original golf course has been altered. In 2014, the club roughly 600 members.[181][182] The town has a Cricket Club, with grounds at London Road; the earliest record of the club dates to 1803.[183][184] The town is also home to a bowls club, called Bristol Bowls Club (after the Marquesses of Bristol, who owned land in the area).[185] Finally, an all-discipline gymnastics club was founded in 1996 and is based on Westgate, close to the town centre.[186]

An outdoor lido was opened in 1872 on riverside land previously owned by the Bristol estate but handed over to the community as public baths.[187] Modern indoor facilities were built in the twentieth century and the old lido became Sleaford Leisure Centre; in 2011 the Kesteven District Council received a grant of £2.85 million, which funded the reconstruction of the centre and its gym.[188][189]


Following Sleaford Fairtrade Group's launch in May 2009, Sleaford was declared by the Fairtrade Foundation to be a Fairtrade Town in June 2010.[190][191] The Mayor, Councillor Jack Collings, was presented with the Certificate on 3 July 2010. Fairtrade Town status was renewed in October 2011 for a period of 2 years by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Landmarks and historic buildings[edit]

The now ruined Sleaford Castle was constructed some time around 1130 by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln.[192] King John is recorded as having stayed at Sleaford Castle in 1216, while unwell after travelling across The Wash; he moved on to Newark, where he subsequently died.[193] The Castle fell into decline in the Elizabethan era, and a grant of 1604 by a local land-owner refers to the "late fair" castle, implying that it has been taken down by that time.[194] It is now a listed building, but only a small section of wall still stands.[192]

The parish church of St. Denys forms the eastern side of the town's market place. The Church is built of Ancaster stone and the oldest part, the west tower, dates to the late 12th century, possibly c. 1180; the broach-spire was built c. 1220 and is one of the oldest in England, though was rebuilt after being struck by lightning in 1884. The Nave and aisles are 14th century and decorated; much of the window tracery dates to this period and has been described as "particularly good" in the building's English Heritage listing and memorable in Pevsner's Buildings of England. The clerestory was built and the chancel remodelled in c. 1430, Richard Dokke and his family being the main benefactors, while the outer north aisle was added in 1853 as part of restoration work carried out by the local firm Kirk and Parry. There is a carved medieval rood screen, which was restored in 1918 by Sir Ninian Comper, and a Communion Rail from Lincoln Cathedral, said to have designed by Sir Christopher Wren. A 15th century window was moved from the west front of the Church in 1884, and placed in the grounds as a decorative object; in its place were added three circular windows beneath arcading.[195][196][197] The Carre family feature prominently amongst the burials in St Denys' and the building houses monuments to them; the ornate marble tomb of Sir Edward Carre (d. 1618) and his wife Elizabeth includes full-length effigies of the couple, a marble plaque and black marble pillars to support a canopy over them bearing the Carre family coat of arms.[198]

Cogglesford Mill (sited on the banks of the River Slea) dates from the 17th century. It is Lincolnshire's last working water mill and is possibly the last working Sheriff's Mill in England[199] (making it of national importance). It is probably on the site of an earlier Mercian estate mill. The adjacent house where the mill worker would have lived is now a restaurant.

The two old manor houses are still standing. The oldest, which was situated in Old Sleaford, is Old Place; located off Boston Road, it was the home of Lord Hussey and then passed to the Carre family. The present buildings were erected in the 19th century.[200] The Manor House and adjoining Rhodes House, off Northgate, are jointly grade II* listed; a complicated group of buildings, they date from the 16th century, though have many 19th century Gothic additions and alterations.[201][202] Also on Northgate are the Almshouses, which were rebuilt in 1857 by Charles Kirk in a neo-Gothic style, and the Grammar School, the oldest sections of which date to 1834.[201]

The large Bass & Co. maltings complex, near Mareham Lane, is grade II listed. The frontage of the buildings span nearly 1,000 feet in length and are made entirely of brick.[203] The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner wrote in Buildings of England that "For sheer impressiveness, little in English architecture can equal the scale of this building."[203] It was constructed from 1892 and opened fully in 1905. During the Second World War, production declined and many of the buildings fell into disuse; production ceased in 1959. A fire severely damaged the building in 1974, though it remained structurally intact. In the 1970s, G.W. Padley (Property) Ltd. bought the site and used it to rear chickens. The buildings were abandoned again in the 1990s and have not been re-occupied, with further damage sustained in a fire in 2014.[204][205] Plans were approved in 2011 for a £50 million renovation project, which would convert the buildings into apartments and houses;[206] the plans, which include the construction of a new supermarket near the site, were delayed when the town council opposed to a link road being constructed through part of the town's recreation ground; in 2014, the District Council served a compulsory purchase order on that land.[207][208]

Select landmarks and historic buildings in Sleaford
The remains of Sleaford Castle 
St. Denys facade, opening onto the market place 
Cogglesford Mill in 2002 
The Manor House 
The Almshouses, Northgate 
Bass Maltings 



As with the rest of the British Isles, Sleaford experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. The nearest Met Office weather station for which online records are available is Cranwell, about 3.3 miles (5.3 km) miles north-west of the town centre.

Climate data for Cranwell 1961–1990 62m asl (weather station 3.5 miles (6 km) to the NW of Sleaford)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.8
Average low °C (°F) 0.3
Precipitation mm (inches) 48
Mean monthly sunshine hours 58.4 69.5 109.2 140.1 195.1 193.9 184.6 175.3 141.7 108.3 70.6 54.3 1,501
Source: Met Office[209]


Town twinning started in Europe after the Second World War. Its purpose was to promote friendship and greater understanding between the people of different European cities. A twinning link is a formal, long-term friendship agreement involving co-operation between two communities in different countries and endorsed by both local authorities. The two communities organise projects and activities around a range of issues and develop an understanding of historical, cultural, lifestyle similarities and differences.

The Sleaford and District Town Twinning Association is responsible for this process and maintaining links; founded in 1999, it coordinates annual visits with its twin towns, the following municipalities:[210]

Notable Sleafordians[edit]

From shortly after the Norman Conquest down to 1550, the manor of New Sleaford was in the possession of the Bishops of Lincoln, who often stayed at the castle and had close links with the town. During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Old Sleaford was owned by the Hussey family, whose most notable member was John Hussey (died c. 1536), created Baron Hussey of Sleaford, he was lord of the manor and rose to be Chief Butler of England, before being executed for his part in the Lincolnshire Rising. Both his estates and those of the Bishops eventually came into the possession of the Carre family when they were purchased by Robert Carre (died 1590); his younger son Edward (died 1618) was created a baronet. The manors remained in their hands until the male line died out and they were inherited by John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, who had married the family's heiress, Isabella Carre. Although absentee land-owners, the Lords Bristol nonetheless maintained close links with the town and their connection is witnessed in a number of place names, including Jermyn Street (named after the subsidiary title Earl Jermyn), Bristol Arcade (after the old Bristol Arms hotel) and the Bristol Bowls Club.

Other Sleafordians entered careers in law and politics. The local Handley family were well-connected with business in the area; Benjamin Handley (1754-1828) was a local lawyer, prominent in the Navigation Company and a partner in the local banking firm Peacock, Handley and Kirton. His son, Henry (died 1844) was a Member of Parliament for Wiltshire and so prominent in the town that, after his death, its residents erected a large monument to him on Southgate. Another notable politician to come from the town was Robert Armstrong Yerburgh (1853-1916), the son of Rev. Richard Yerburgh, vicar of New Sleaford, he born in Sleaford and was twice Member of Parliament for Chester. Lastly, Sir Robert Pattinson, educated at the Grammar School in the 1880s, became Chair of the Kesteven County Council and Member of Parliament for Grantham and Sleaford.

In arts, the royalist poet Thomas Shipman (1632–80) was educated at Carre's Grammar School;[212] Joseph Smedley (1784–1863), the actor and comedian, performed at the town and built the theatre in 1824; and Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863-1937), the artist, was born in the town.[213] More recently, the actress and comedian Jennifer Saunders (born 1958) was born in Sleaford.[214] Frances Brooke (died 1789), the novelist, essayist and playwright, died at her clergyman son's house in Sleaford.[215]

In popular culture, the singer Lois Wilkinson (born 1944), one part of the duo group The Caravelles, was born in the town;[216] glamour model Abi Titmuss grew up in nearby Ruskington and was educated at Kesteven and Sleaford High School.[217] Bernie Taupin (born 1950), Elton John's songwriter, was born in the town.[218] The actor Eric Thompson (1929-1982), who narrated The Magic Roundabout television series, was born in a house on Jermyn Street. In sport, the professional footballer Mark Wallington, who played for Leicester City and England under-23s, grew up in Sleaford and, after he retired from the game, taught Physical Education at St George's Academy.[219]

Cecil Rhodes, the explorer and entrepreneur, spent part of his boyhood in the Manor House, Northgate, where his aunt, Sophia Peacock, lived.[220] George Bass (d. c. 1812), the naval surgeon and explorer, who discovered Bass Strait, Australia, was born at Aswarby, a hamlet near Sleaford.[221]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Genuki, there were five annual cattle fairs, held on Plough Monday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, 12 August and 20 October.[2]
  2. ^ Much of the gold and bronze found in the cemetery was deposited in the British Museum after it was uncovered in the 1880s by excavator George Thomas.[20]
  3. ^ The first reference to "New Sleaford" is made in 1263, though the difference between "East" and "Little" had been made during the previous century.[28]
  4. ^ Westgate was constructed as a route connecting the town to the castle[35]
  5. ^ It was previously sold by the Bishops of Lincoln to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and reverted to the crown on his attainder in 1549; Queen Mary I later sold it to Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln.[46]
  6. ^ The principle buildings being: Sessions House (1831), the Grammar School (1834), Carre Hospital (1830-1846), the Gasworks (1839), Navigation House (1838–39), much of Eastgate (including the Alvey School in 1850, and Kingston and Lafford Terraces in 1856 and 1857), the Cemetery (1856) and the Corn Exchange (1857)
  7. ^ Proposals to link Sleaford to Ancaster (for transporting stone) in 1827 did not materialise; works by the Ambergate Company in the 1840s should have extended to reach Sleaford, but they stopped at Grantham in 1850, while opposition from the Navigation Company to another proposal further delayed railway links to the town.[74]
  8. ^ These buildings were on Station Road (created for the station), Nag's Head Passage, West Banks, Grantham Road and London Road, and in New Quarrington.



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  2. ^ "New Sleaford". Genuki. Retrieved 8 December 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Ekwall Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names p. 462
  4. ^ Creasey Sketches, Illustrative of the History and Topography of New and Old Sleaford p. 21
  5. ^ Phillips "Bronze Age sword from Lincolnshire" The Antiquaries Journal 15 p. 349
  6. ^ "Search results. Text: Sleaford. Broad period: Bronze Age" (Portable Antiquities Scheme)
  7. ^ "Late Neolithic and Bronze Age activity, East Road, Sleaford (HER no. 63897)" Accessed on 29 November 2014.
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  11. ^ Mahany and Roffe Sleaford p 8
  12. ^ Mahany and Roffe Sleaford pp. 6-8
  13. ^ Mahany and Roffe Sleaford pp. 8-10
  14. ^ a b c d Mahany and Roffe Sleaford p. 10
  15. ^ Burnham and Wacher The Small Towns of Roman Britain p. 9
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  45. ^ Trollope Sleaford pp. 129-130
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  71. ^ Playhouse Yard, Charles Street, Leicester Street and Cabbage Row being four main examples.
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External links[edit]